The following is a collaboration with Daniel Smith, a fellow baseball and poker fan. Please welcome Daniel and enjoy!
For the last 100 years, baseball has been considered America’s game. However, the last decade has seen the rise of a game that has similarities to baseball but is a game that realistically can be played by everyone. That game is poker.
When we first mention the game of poker, you probably think that poker and baseball have very little in common considering that baseball is a much more physical game than poker. While that is indeed the case, the two games have some distinct similarities that carry over one to another.
The first is that both games are deceptively boring. If you watch either game for a long period of time, it would appear that nothing is going on. All of a sudden, there is a crack of the bat as the batter hit a drive into the upper deck and baseball fans are cheering as their guy rounds the bases.
Poker is the same where there is little action for a long time and then suddenly a big hand brews that puts one player at risk for his tournament life. Fans are then cheering for their guy to either catch his card or for his hand to hold.
Several key skills in baseball transfer well to the game of poker. Sharp focus is one of the biggest as both baseball players and poker players have to have sharp focus to play their respective games for hours at a time.
Next, poker players and baseball players have to be able to adjust their strategy many times during the game. In baseball, strategy changes depend on the situation, the batter at the plate, and even intangible elements such as a pitcher not having his best stuff. In poker, a player has to adjust his strategy multiple times in a game, and in some cases in each hand depending on their opponent.
The biggest similarity in the two games is that the ultimate dream for each player is to make it to the World Series. In baseball, every player that puts on a uniform wants to have a successful season and win the World Series to become a world champion. In poker, the World Series of Poker is the gold standard in poker championships. Greatness in the game is measured by your success at the WSOP more so than any other event.
As one can see from above, both baseball and poker have huge similarities. That is why some baseball players including Alex Rodriguez and Orel Hersheiser have taken up the game. Skills from one game transfer over very well to the other and the great part about the game is that when we get past the age to competitively play baseball, we can still sit down and enjoy a friendly game of poker.